Alistair Reid joined the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers
in 1965 and trained at Arberfield and Bordon. He was discharged as
a Corporal in 1975 and went on to work in a variety of jobs before
he returned to Scotland, when he discovered his eyesight was
His life was turned upside down when he began suffering from
vision impairment and found doing everyday tasks increasingly
difficult. Eventually he was registered blind, after suffering from
Bilateral Macular Dystrophy and lost both his job and
his ability to drive.
"I now feel that I actually don't care that I am blind."
Alistair Reed, blind veteran turned picture framer and stone
Alistair, known as Ally, hit rock bottom. But with the help of
Blind Veterans UK, he has learnt new skills and has his life is
back on track. Speaking about his experiences, he said: "Initially
I was very nervous about joining the charity. The induction week
started out as a bit of a trauma for me. I went into the centre in
Ovingdean, Brighton, saw the high backed chairs and felt that it
was just not for me. It seemed like a place for old people.
"All the way down to Brighton I kept thinking to myself, "Well,
what can they do for me?". I did not want charity; I didn't think I
needed it. Looking back I was very arrogant. It was four years
after I first heard of the charity that I decided to join. In
retrospect I was an idiot during those four years."
After his initial hesitation about joining Blind Veterans UK,
Ally persevered and took part in some of the classes we had to
offer. The results have been life changing for Ally. Having
enrolled in a course in picture framing and stone carving, Ally is
now a self-employed picture framer with a good client base and has
had his stone carvings exhibited in an art gallery. As well as
this, Ally has developed a keen interest in golf and is now Vice
President of the International Blind Golf Association.
Ally said: "The single most important thing that the charity has
given me is confidence and independence. It has quite simply
changed my life. I had been on a downward spiral before I became a
member of the charity, and this really impacted on my family
"I believe that the right attitude is that people can do things -
this should be the focus. I now travel the world playing golf. Just
this afternoon I played and beat a friend who was fully
"I now feel that I actually don't care that I am blind. I honestly
feel that I am at par with everyone else".
Ally said: "My blindness really made me have a very low
self-esteem, and this caused me to be very selfish and
introspective. With this came an inability to see things from
anyone else's perspective. I kept thinking to myself that it's me
that this is happening to, I am the one that cannot work, and drive
and do all of the everyday things that people take for granted, so
why is it that my family is finding this difficult to deal
"My wife and kids have really benefited from Blind Veterans UK. I
suffered from mild depression prior to joining Blind Veterans UK,
and I now feel so much happier and think that I have a very bright
If you care for someone who may qualify for our support or you
know of anyone who served in the Armed Forces and has severe sight
problems, please do not hesitate to contact Blind Veterans UK.
We launched the No One Alone campaign to reach out to more
people like Alistair. It is estimated that there are 68,000 plus
blind veterans who could be eligible for our help but are unaware
of it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or
National Service who now suffers with sight loss (including
age-related sight loss) request our free service by calling 0800 389
Blind veteran Ken Facal was badly injured in an IED blast in Afghanistan.
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Give a blind veteran an independent future